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The first pages of the Book of Mormon began rolling off a Smith Patented Improved Press in 1829, and Joseph Smith secured a copyright for it in June 1829, but there’s a good reason it’s considered to have been published in 1830.

It took nine months to publish the first 5,000 copies on the tiny, hand-lever press. After all, the lever was pressed down once for every eight pages, and the total order included about 3 million pages.

A Palmyra, New York, newspaper ran an ad on March 19, 1830, that said, “We are requested to announce that the ‘Book of Mormon’ will be ready for sale in the course of a week.” Another ad a week later confirmed it indeed was for sale.

Now, last week, we learned that the 200 millionth copy of the Book of Mormon was printed last summer.

If you’ve seen “The Two Best Years,” you know there’s long been a grammar argument over whether that is a lot of Books of Mormon or Book of Mormons. It’s safest to use the phrase copies of the Book of Mormon.

The staying power of printed copies of the Book of Mormon is noteworthy in the age of digitization. After all, it’s freely available on, the Book of Mormon app and the Gospel Library app. There’s also the recently revised, illustrated Book of Mormon Stories, not to mention the new Book of Mormon Videos.

“The Bible alone excepted, the Book of Mormon is by far the most widely printed and circulated book in the history of the Western Hemisphere,” the scholar Terryl Givens wrote in his 2009 Oxford Press book, “The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction.”

At 200 million copies, the Book of Mormon appears to trail only the Bible, the Qur’an, “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung,” “Don Quixote” and “A Tale of Two Cities.” It is in the same ballpark now as “The Little Prince,” according to Wikipedia. (No single authoritative source is compiling this information, especially since some of these books and religious texts have been published across centuries where no figures are available.)

The Book of Mormon has received increasing international and scholarly attention over the past 20 years, with books about it published by Oxford, Princeton and Random House presses. The Doubleday Religion Division published a secular printing of the Book of Mormon with the church’s permission in 2004 to get it into bookstores and more libraries worldwide.

The scholar David Bokovoy said, “You don’t have to believe in its historic claims to appreciate it as literature.”

Latter-day Saints will study the Book of Mormon during classes on Sundays this year, and the Church News has published a raft of stories about it that are worth your attention. For example, you won’t want to miss Elder Dale G. Renlund’s appearance on the Church News podcast, where he talks about the 200 millionth copy.

“We know that Joseph saw the gospel rolling forth and covering the earth,” he said, “but this is just a miracle. It is a miracle that it got published in the first place. It is a miracle that it came forth. It is a miracle that it was accepted by so many.”

Here’s a short list of some of what the Church News has published about the Book of Mormon in the past few weeks:

A chart that shows the growth over time in the number of languages with translations of the Book of Mormon.

A piece from BYU’s dean of religious education on promises made by modern prophets about the Book of Mormon’s power to improve lives.

How to digitally share the Book of Mormon with others.

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15 teachings, testimonies and promises about the Book of Mormon from church leaders.

How to see historic images of the original manuscript.

Church News executive editor Sarah Jane Weaver wrote, “What I learned from President Nelson about accepting prophetic invitations and the Book of Mormon.”

My recent stories

Heating system malfunction apparent cause of carbon monoxide poisoning that sent dozens to hospital following church services (Jan. 2)

About the church

  • President Russell M. Nelson posted a message on social media “on my 100th New Year’s Day” and encouraged people to marvel and rejoice over the gifts provided by Jesus Christ, the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ and more. (See photo below.)
  • On Saturday, the church will open the plazas by the Church Office Building, the north section of Main Street Plaza and the northwest plaza of Temple Square. They have been closed during the renovation of the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square. Read more about what’s happening on Temple Square here.
  • The church, through its investment arm, purchased land and six warehouses in an industrial park in Miami, Florida.
  • This is cool. The church has released 150 new symbols to help parents, teachers and leaders teach nonverbal children or those who are neurodiverse, have cognitive delays, are communicating in their non-native language or simply prefer using visual images. Read about it and find a link to the symbols here. An additional 600 images will be added over the next two years.
  • An 81-year-old man was charged with a felony after allegedly stalking a Latter-day Saint bishop.

What I’m reading

  • Always controversial, “The Book of Mormon” musical that has been called offensive and bigoted and racist is now the 12th-longest-running show in Broadway history. The producers tacitly acknowledged problems by making some changes two years ago. Read here to see a list of the longest-running Broadway shows. (Elder D. Todd Christofferson once said at the Library of Congress, “May I conclude with an invitation we have put in the playbill for the Broadway musical ‘The Book of Mormon’ (which, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the Book of Mormon): ‘You’ve seen the play; now read the book. The book is always better.’ By all means, read the book.”)
  • Disney has lost the rights to the original black-and-white versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse from “Steamboat Willie,” because copyright law only protected them for 95 years. Read more here.
  • I didn’t know that NFL policy allows players to play fantasy football but limits how much money they are allowed to win as part of a fantasy league.

Behind the Scenes

President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Nelson are show at Machu Picchu in the mountains of Perú.
President Russell M. Nelson posted this photo of himself with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, from a past visit to Machu Picchu in the mountains of Perú. The post, on Jan. 1, 2024, celebrated his 100th New Year’s Day and was a call for all to marvel about the blessings provided by Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. | Facebook
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